Computer-Assisted Translation / Computer-Aided Translation
Computer-assisted translation, Computer-aided translation, or CAT is a form of translation wherein a human translator translates texts using computer software designed to support and facilitate the translation process.
Computer-assisted translation is sometimes called machine-assisted, or machine-aided, translation.
Computer-assisted translation vs. Machine translation
Although the two concepts are similar, computer-assisted translation should not be confused with machine translation (MT).
In computer-assisted translation, the computer program supports the translator, who translates the text himself, making all the essential decisions involved, whereas in machine translation, the translator supports the machine, that is to say that the computer or program translates the text, which is then edited by the translator, or not edited at all. Difficulties with such unedited output are described at machine translation.
Computer-assisted translation is a broad and imprecise term covering a range of tools, from the fairly simple to the more complicated. These can include:
- Spell checkers, either built into word processing software, or add-on programs;
- Grammar checkers, again either built into word processing software, or add-on programs;
- terminology managers, allowing the translator to manage his own terminology bank in an electronic form. This can range from a simple table created in the translator's word processing software or spreadsheet, a database created in a program such as FileMaker Pro (almost a standard in the translation industry) or Microsoft Access, or, for more robust (and more expensive) solutions, specialized software packages such as LogiTerm, MultiTerm, Termex, etc.
- Dictionaries on CD-ROM, either unilingual or bilingual
- Terminology databases, either on CD-ROM or accessible through the Internet, (such as TERMIUM or Grand dictionnaire terminologique from the Office québécois de la langue française)
- Full-text searches (or indexers), which allow the user to query already translated texts or reference documents of various kinds. In the translation industry one finds such indexers as Naturel, ISYS Search Software and dtSearch.
- Concordancers, which are programs that retrieve instances of a word or an expression in a monolingual, bilingual or multiligual corpus.
- Bitexts, a fairly recent development, the result of merging a source text and its translation, which can then be consulted using a full-text search tool.
- Translation memory managers (TMM), tools consisting of a database of text segments in a source language and their translations in one or more target languages.
- Systems that are nearly automatic as in machine translation, but allow user decisions for ambiguous cases. These are sometimes called human-aided machine translation.
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